Round 17 of the MXGP Championship took place in Sevlievo, Bulgaria with Jeffrey Herlings taking a dominating win in the MXGP class, while Jorge Prado extended his MX2 win with a narrow victory over Pauls Jonass, with each taking a win a-piece.
Aussie Hunter Lawrence had a great weekend starting with a fifth place result and improving to second in Race 2, for third overall, while Todd Waters took home seven championship points going 19-16.
The EMX250 and EMX300 classes also competed, with Mathys Boisrame taking the title and a win in Race 2.
The natural terrain and old school style motocross track was an instant hit among many riders and lead to great racing throughout the weekend.
MXGP Race 1
MXGP’s Race 1 started with a season first Fox Holeshot from Tim Gajser but the Slovenian quickly lost the lead to Jeffrey Herlings. Third off the start and not far off the top 2 riders’ pace was Clement Desalle.
Following Desalle was the 2 French riders, Romain Febvre and Gautier Paulin. Paulin’s teammate Max Anstie lost control on the opening lap and collided with Febvre’s teammate Jeremy Van Horebeek.
Van Horebeek stayed up but Anstie went down just in front of Antonio Cairoli causing the Italian to lose positions. Cairoli was 10th across the line during the first official lap and put a charge on but only reached 8th after passing his Glenn Coldenhoff.
After Cairoli’s pass for 8th on lap 4 the top 9 remained the same for the entirety of the race. Anstie pulled off the track to regroup for Race 2 while Herlings took a 15.9 second win over Gajser, Desalle, Febvre, and Paulin.
Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Yamaha), +1:13.023
…19. Todd Waters (AUS, HON)
MXGP Race 2
Race 2 saw a renewed Cairoli take the Fox Holeshot but similar to Gajser in race one the lead was shot away quickly at the hands of the “Bullet” Jeffrey Herlings. Gajser backed up his strong ride from the first race running 3rd ahead of Desalle.
Van Horebeek fell on the start along with Shaun Simpson and Marchetti Racing Team KTM’s Jose Butron. Van Horebeek’s teammate Febvre was in 5th for the first lap and a half before crashing and dropping back to 8th.
Coldenhoff took over 5th once Febvre fell but had Anstie apply pressure from 6th. Anstie’s teammate, Paulin, only kept Febvre at bay for a single lap before he lost 7th. Febvre continued on to pass both Anstie and Coldenhoff which threw off the Dutch rider enough for Anstie to also move past a lap later.
At the finish Herlings topped Cairoli by just over 14 seconds with Gajser 3rd, Desalle 4th, and Febvre 5th.
The overall win went to Herlings along with the full 50 points up for grabs. Gajser took 2nd and Desalle rounded out the podium while Cairoli just missed the box in 4th but more importantly lost 16 championship points to Herlings.
The series now heads to Turkey next weekend for the first time since 2009. Herlings’ championship lead is now 73 points with three rounds to go.
“I think this is one of the most beautiful tracks…but not really one of my favourites with the hard and slick ground. I think Youthstream and the guys did a great job with preparation but it was tough with the high temperatures. We had an awesome weekend: winning Qualifying and both motos. It is all I can ask for. It is too early to talk about the title but it is definitely getting closer. Anything can happen still. We’ll wait and see but today we did a good thing for the championship and we’re leading by 73 points now.”
“I’m really happy to be back on the podium after a couple of GPs. I was feeling good today: we made some changes to the bike set-up during the weekend and it paid off today. We had two good starts and my riding was good, so I’m happy. Of course, we will have to work harder because there are still three Grands Prix left and we want to finish the season on a high note. I would like to thank the team as usual because they have worked really great.”
“It’s good to be consistent with another podium. I’m a little disappointed with a few mistakes which I made, but I still got the podium. Now it’s important to stay consistent through the last three GPs to maintain my third place in the championship standings.”
“The knee was not a big problem but it still affects me, especially in the first laps of the race when they have watered the track and I was scared to slip away and had to put my foot down quite a lot. I was a little bit too careful in the first moto and then Anstie crashed in front of me and I was stuck a little bit. On this track it is very difficult to come through the pack. I was not really pumped with the first moto. I made a holeshot in the second one. Jeffrey passed me and I tried to follow him but he is very strong at the moment for the entire race and I am missing some training from Indonesia because of my hand and then the knee so the last ten minutes it was very difficult to stay close. Anyway, it was a very nice second moto so I am quite happy. Hopefully the knee will not bother me for the next race and I can start the next rounds with a free mind and no injury problems.”
Todd Waters had a very difficult start in race one and ended up hurting his knee when the front of his bike tucked in the early stages of the moto. After two painful laps, the Australian rider struggled to find his rhythm and could not finish higher than 19th. He had a much better jump out of the gate in race two but was unable to find the right flow; as the race progressed, he lost several positions and was sixteenth at the flag.
“The first race was a bit of a disaster: I had a poor start and then on the first lap, at the bottom of one of the big hills, I tucked the front; I stuck my leg out and twisted my knee. I was in a bit of pain for a couple of laps and after that I simply couldn’t get up to speed and find the right flow, and as I got angrier the situation got worse. The start of race two was a lot better and I was around tenth place, but I still couldn’t find the right rhythm. I did what I could and finished sixteenth. It was unfortunate as I wanted to get a good result this weekend, but I just couldn’t make it happen. Still, thank you to the team because they worked flawlessly.”
MXGP Race 2 Top Ten
Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 35:21.881
Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), +0:14.366
Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), +0:25.658
Clement Desalle (BEL, Kawasaki), +0:34.633
Romain Febvre (FRA, Yamaha), +0:44.829
Max Anstie (GBR, Husqvarna), +0:47.752
Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), +0:50.922
Tommy Searle (GBR, Kawasaki), +0:54.196
Gautier Paulin (FRA, Husqvarna), +0:54.943
Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Yamaha), +0:57.488.
…19. Todd Waters (AUS, HON)
MX2 racing was full of action especially in race one where Jorge Prado took the Fox Holeshot but had fellow KTM rider and championship competitor Pauls Jonass just behind.
Thomas Covington and Thomas Kjer Olsen were in 3rd and 4th with American Marshal Weltin on his new F&H Racing Team Kawasaki 5th.
Honda 114 Motorsports Hunter Lawrence was 6th but took 5th from Weltin on lap 2 only to gift it back the next lap when he fell and remounted in 7th behind Brent Van doninck. It only took Lawrence a lap to get back into his starting position of 7th.
Lap 3 would be the end of the Bulgarian campaign for Calvin Vlaanderen when he fell in an attempt to avoid the downed Ben Watson. Vlaanderen then had Stephen Rubini collide with his bike and him. Though the South African got up under his own power he rode straight back to the Team HRC truck.
While many eyes were on Vlaanderen it was Jonass making moves as he took the lead from Prado during lap 4. Prado was unable to respond and quickly lost time to Jonass. The other teammates that were running 3rd and 4th also swapped positions when Olsen took third from Covington.
At the halfway point Lawrence passed Weltin to take 5th for the second time while Watson moved the American back another spot to seventh. At the finish it was win for Jonass over Prado and Olsen.
MX2 Race 1 Top Ten
Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), 34:34.818
Jorge Prado (ESP, KTM), +0:05.471
Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, Husqvarna), +0:11.590
Thomas Covington (USA, Husqvarna), +0:19.707
Hunter Lawrence (AUS, Honda), +0:23.308
Ben Watson (GBR, Yamaha), +0:27.786
Marshal Weltin (USA, Kawasaki), +0:57.001
Brent Van doninck (BEL, Husqvarna), +1:03.808
Bas Vaessen (NED, Honda), +1:12.535
Samuele Bernardini (ITA, Yamaha), +1:20.790.
MX2 Race 2
Race 2 was started with Prado’s 10th Fox Holeshot in a row with Jonass breathing down the #61’s neck. Olsen and Covington had a massive change of fortune when both went down in the first turn.
Jonass was in a perfect position to score his first double race win since the MXGP of Great Britain but instead lost the front end on the opening lap. Though Jonass only lost two spots to Lawrence and Watson he and his bike suffered damage.
Olsen was perhaps the most impressive in the opening laps coming from essentially last, after the first turn fall, to 5th by lap 3! Olsen’s progress was halted there however as Jonass was sure to give up no further championship points.
At the front Lawrence steadily closed on Prado who backed off the pace early but the Spaniard eventually dug deep to hold off the Australian.
Prado took the race win along with the overall while Jonass made a late pass on Watson taking 4th in the race and 2nd overall. The final spot on the podium went to Lawrence with his 5-2 score, slightly improved from his 5-3 podium earning result last week in Switzerland. Prado now leads the points by 30 after gaining 2 on Jonass this weekend.
“This track could be one of my favourites. I really like the design, even if I am not the fastest on this type of surface. I enjoyed it a lot and it was something totally different to what we had last week when there was no elevation. Here there were a lot of uphills and downhills. It was fun and really challenging. Pauls was riding really good all weekend long. He was pushing all the way to the end of the first moto and I could catch him a little bit but I knew I could win the GP in the second moto. The watering meant you really had to be careful where you rode and the lines you took: you don’t want to fall on the first laps and lose a lot of positions. Pauls was behind me so I kinda had to push while being careful at the same time! He had the bad luck to crash and that could have happened to me because there was a lot of water. With Pauls gone I could really concentrate on my riding and did not want to make a mistake. Hunter came close and I had to push again in the last two laps. It was a good race: sometimes the fastest guy doesn’t always win! Three races, six motos and a lot of racing to go.”
“I was feeling good all weekend and I really like this track. In the first moto I managed to pass Jorge midway through the race and could control the gap. I was close to him at the start of the second moto and took my time but on the second or third lap I just washed the front [wheel] and bent the bike a bit, the clutch lever was down and it was strange to ride. It took me a while to get back in the rhythm and I could push again in the last ten minutes but it was only good enough for third place and not the overall. We have been close many times and it is a long time since I’ve been on the top of the podium. I’m really motivated to get there. We still have three races left and I think Jorge has a thirty point lead. Nothing is over, everything can happen and we’ll fight until the end.”
Hunter Lawrence once again finished in third place overall after scoring his highest points tally of the season with five-two finishes. The Australian rider could have even finished a bit higher in the first race had he not made a couple of errors early on but in the second race it was good to see him close up on the first place rider and challenge for the lead.
“Yes it was a good weekend although I am perhaps a little disappointed for how good I felt on the track. The first moto I messed it up all on my own, I came into Covington on the fourth corner and lost some positions there and then on the third lap I crashed a lost some more. I managed to get fifth, which was good enough to keep the podium alive. Then in the second moto, I wanted to get another good start but keep it on two wheels and I managed to do that and although I got a little bit lucky with Pauls Jonass crashing out, I still rode well to get into second place. I kept my head down and it took me a few laps to find my flow but I kept pushing and with my CRF250R working well, I closed right up to Jorge Prado, but I just couldn’t make a pass to cap off what would have been a great weekend. Back to back podiums is pretty cool as I haven’t done that before and I look forward to making it three in a row in Turkey.”
Thomas Kjer-Olsen showed impressive speed at the hard-packed track of Sevlievo. After fighting his way to a strong third place result in the opening MX2 class moto, the young Dane found himself with a mountain to climb following a first-turn crash in moto two. Picking himself up Thomas put his head down to secure a solid fifth in the second race.
“It was a tough GP and I did my best for a good overall result. In the opening moto I got off to a good start and quickly placed myself inside the top-five. The pace on the first two laps was really high. I got into fourth behind Thomas [Covington] and was able to make the move into third. It was a good race and a great result. In the second moto Thomas crashed in front of me right after the start and there was no way to avoid him. Restarting the race, I knew I had to work hard and this is what I did. I made a lot of passes and managed to place myself in fifth position at the line. I’m quite happy with these results. My speed was good and I really tried my best after the fall in moto two.”
MX2 Race 2 Top Ten
Jorge Prado (ESP, KTM), 34:56.251
Hunter Lawrence (AUS, Honda), +0:00.605
Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), +0:18.043
Ben Watson (GBR, Yamaha), +0:19.346
Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, Husqvarna), +0:47.383
Anthony Rodriguez (VEN, Yamaha), +0:57.950
Marshal Weltin (USA, Kawasaki), +1:17.981
Tom Koch (GER, KTM), +1:20.188
Michael Sandner (AUT, KTM), +1:25.606
Gustavo Pessoa (BRA, Kawasaki), +1:27.378.
MX2 Overall Top Ten
Jorge Prado (ESP, KTM), 47 points
Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), 45
Hunter Lawrence (AUS, HON), 38
Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, HUS), 36
Ben Watson (GBR, YAM), 33
Marshal Weltin (USA, KAW), 28
Thomas Covington (USA, HUS), 28
Anthony Rodriguez (VEN, YAM), 22
Tom Koch (GER, KTM), 21
Bas Vaessen (NED, HON), 21
MX2 Championship Top Ten
Jorge Prado (ESP, KTM), 739 points
Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), 709
Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, HUS), 555
Ben Watson (GBR, YAM), 515
Thomas Covington (USA, HUS), 480
Calvin Vlaanderen (NED, HON), 462
Jago Geerts (BEL, YAM), 346
Michele Cervellin (ITA, YAM), 314
Henry Jacobi (GER, HUS), 278
Hunter Lawrence (AUS, HON), 267
EMX250 Race 1 followed the two Qualifying races of MXGP and MX2. The track was much changed with new lines since the morning practice sessions. Brian Moreau was the fastest in the time practice giving him first gate choice which he took full advantage of to take the holeshot.
Nicholas Lapucci was second briefly before current red plate holder Mathys Boisrame and his Honda RedMoto Assomotor bike took over the position. Tom Vialle also moved past Lapucci to pressure Boisrame for second but struggle to make the pass.
Gianluca Facchetti was 4th and battled with Michael Ivanov the majority of the race. Ivanov took the position from Facchetti on the 7th lap but the Italian took it back 5 laps later.
Mel Pocock lost his radiator cap at the start of the race and later collided with another rider sending the Brit out of the race with a DNF. Steven Clarke had multiple mishaps and fell from 8th to 15th before eventually finishing 13th. At the finish it was a race win for Moreau which marked the first of his EMX250 career as Boisrame took second followed by Vialle, and Facchetti, while Ivanov took the final spot in the top 5.
EMX250 Race 2 followed the Warm Up sessions of MX2 and MXGP which left the track with fresh but with good lines. Race 1 winner and top qualifier Moreau lined up to the gate after last minute repair work was done to his bike in the waiting area. Moreau had a decent jump of the grid but lost out on the start to Boisrame and Ivanov. Moreau then got out of shape on the roller section leading to the first uphill losing more positions.
Ivanov started to attack Boisrame for the lead while Facchetti tried to capitalize on the pair’s brief battle. Just further back Moreau collided with Vialle and got caught up in the back of the KTM. Moreau’s race was over but Vialle refocused and charged up to 2nd by Facchetti on lap 2.
Roan van De Moosdijk took 3rd from Facchetti a lap later and eventually charged past Vialle for second. Boisrame’s title adversary Pocock started the race in 5th but dropped to 6th by the finish which gave Boisrame the points required to clinch the 2018 EMX250 Championship one round early!
Boisrame came into 2018 with 1 overall victory to his name in 2017 and 2 race wins. This year the young French rider reached the top step of the overall podium 5 times with 6 individual race wins. His season turned around massively after the opening round of the year at RedSand, Spain where he took 18th overall with a 15th and a 19th.
The eight points scored in Spain was multiplied in Portugal however when his double race wins gave him 50 more points. In Russia Boisrame struggled again scoring 23 points from the two races combined. Latvia proved to many including himself that the success of Portugal was no fluke as he took his second overall victory of the season.
The Frenchman continued his success into his home race where he claimed the championship leader’s red plate. Now at the tenth round of the eleven this season Boisrame has claimed the title which seemed so distant in Spain and can rest easy as the 2018 FIM Europe 250 Motocross Champion.
Jumping to the Saturday’s first race was the EMX300 and leading with a holeshot was Mike Kras while Youri van t Ende ran second briefly before red plate holder Brad Anderson jumped past on his KTM during the opening lap.
Erik Willems battled with Vaclav Kovar moving to 4th before getting by van t Ende prior to the end of the first official lap. The early top 3 remained in the same positions throughout the race but Kovar took 4th from van t Ende who fell another spot to Manuel Iacopi.
The Dutchman later fell victim again as Andero Lusbo stole 6th leaving van t Ende to finish 7th. Kras took the race win with title rival Anderson 2nd and Willems 3rd.
The 300cc 2 strokes were again the first on track with sighting laps leading start into the first race of the morning. Kras was the fastest off the gate for the second day in a row but had Anderson just behind him. Willems was running up in third while Iacopi was under pressure from Kovar for 4th.
Anderson took the lead from yesterday’s race winner Kras quickly and pulled a small lead but Kras pulled the gap back down the following laps. Kovar took bad jump off of the grid back was up into 4th by lap 3 shuffling Iacopi back.
At the front Kras pushed Anderson hoping for a mistake but eventually made an aggressive pass for the lead. The pass squeezed Anderson nearly off track on one of the many uphill sections. Anderson retaliated quickly and the pair battled vigorously with each passing attempt more intense than the prior. Anderson managed to retake the lead and for several laps Kras chased closely by mistakes from the Dutch rider slowed his momentum and cost him to lose focus.
Anderson pulled away to take the race win and the overall balancing the points out to where they started coming into Bulgaria, 27 ahead of Kras which leaves the championship to be decided at the new round of Imola. Kras heads into the break before Imola with a second in both the race and the overall while Kovar made a pass to take 3rd with only 2 laps to go in Race 2.
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